Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Obama ends Bush-era National Prayer Day service at White House

President Bush at National Prayer Day service For years, it's been a staple of the White House calendar.

On the first Thursday of May, dedicated as the National Day of Prayer, President George W. Bush hosted an ecumenical service in the East Room, a big public endorsement of evangelical Christians. (This event is different from the National Prayer Breakfast, held outside the White House gates every year on the first Thursday of February.)

President Obama opted not to have a service in the White House this year.

"Prayer is something that the president does every day," explained White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that Obama will sign a proclamation to recognize the day. "I think the president understands, in his own life and in his family's life, the role that prayer plays."

President Truman signed the first National Prayer Day proclamation, and President Reagan made it a permanent occasion. Under Bush, the day was a political event, confirming a conviction that religion was a core tenet of Republican politics.

Naturally, prominent evangelicals, including National Day of Prayer Task Force Chairman Shirley Dobson, and her husband, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, expressed disappointment in Obama's decision.

"At this time in our country's history, we would hope our president would recognize more fully the importance of prayer," Shirley Dobson said in a statement.

But Obama has shown an unusual sensitivity toward atheists, the first president to mention non-believers in an inaugural address when he said, "For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers."

Non-believers took heart at Obama's decision but urged him to go further.

"It's not his job to tell people to pray," David Silverman, national spokesman for the organization American Atheists, told CNN.  "We are very happy he did away with the George W. Bush-era celebrations and party, but we wish he wouldn't do it at all."

-- Johanna Neuman

Click here for the Ticket Twitter alerts. Or follow us @latimestot or latimesneuman

Photo: Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (79)

The comments to this entry are closed.

i automatically disregard anything written in all caps, how about the rest of you?

(AM responds: ABSOLUTELY!!!)

This is just another part of Obama & the Emanuel brother's plan to remove everything special and unique about this great country...the country that my father and father-in-law risked their lives for. November cannot come soon enough - Obama is abusing his power to reduce America to nothing special and making this country very vulnerable to financial ruin and attack from our enemies. Dear God, Please help America to survive this nightmare and recover, through your grace. Amen.

I'm not surprised he canceled the service. Normally, I would think it was a sad day that yet another person held to the "separation of church and state" myth. "Separation of church and state" was spoken of to keep the state out of religion - - not vice versa. Anyway, Obama would be a hypocrite to pray to God, because he and his family haven't even attended church since he supposedly threw Jerry Wright under the bus. Besides, he's not a Christian. He only worships his own reflection.

He sure kneeled in prayer at the White House with a group of his Muslim buddies!!! I haave the photo on facebook to show, He was taking off his shoes to kneel with them surrounding him. They said they one day take over the USA and would do it within.

"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
3 4 In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "

Jesus said that.

The words of 2 Chronicles 7:14

"If my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray,
and seek my face, and turn from their
wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven
and will forgive their sin and will heal
their land."

We must pray for
our nation, our communities, our families, and
especially our children.

They are the ones that are going to suffer the most
if we don't PRAY!

May God have mercy...IN GOD WE TRUST.

This will no doubt get the Flat-Earthers, the Bible-Belt crowd, the Fox News Propagandists, and the politically-minded evangelists (Dobson, Robertson) in a froth -- but everyone knows this so-called "National Day of Prayer" is nothing but a pandering ploy by politicians to reach out to the illiterate base through a sinister and far from "Christian-like" outfit who created this nonsense called "The Family."

Let's honor atheist contribution to humanity as over 40 Million Christian children and pastors were summarily executed to establish a religious free atheist nation like socialist USSR in the early 1900s and let's do away with the national day of prayer that has been established since 1775 as an American Heritage. In fact, let's just throw out the first amendment that guarantees government shall never establish any laws that would hinder religious practice anywhere in our country and start making new laws censoring religious people from participating freely and practicing free speech, especially praying for our nation, on any tax funded property, but make sure we continue to offer taxation without representation by demanding all those 90%+ of tax payers who believe in God to pay for policies that censor out their voices from all public forums.

MichaelMerriman , I've been listening to Limbaugh for over 20 years now. I can't catch it every day like I did when I was still working. I have never heard him be bitter. I find him very up lifting, especially when I was unemployed during the first part of Clinton's Presidency and all the Aerospace businesses left Southern CA. You must have never listened to him at all. It's just made up Liberal-Speak.

Ps. 33:18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; 19. To deliver them from death and to keep them alive in famine. 20. Our soul waiteth on the Lord: he is our help and our shield. 21. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. 22. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. Also to those who choose not to pray...1 Peter 3:12 FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE UPON THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ARE OPEN UNTO THEIR PRAYERS: BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THEM THAT DO EVIL

"For us????" Christ died for us!!!!! "They" came here for freedom to worship God! My Judge says, it's ok to pray- For us! But Lincoln said "they should be received back into the union "with malice towards none, with charity to all! IPeter 2: 16,17 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God! Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the King! Jesus!!1 Some alternate theories can create more problems than they solve!! Are you a solver??? Lincoln Was!!!!

If people want to live in a moarchy and a kingdom of poverty then why didn't they just give the Royal Couple Crowns!???? Did he finally sware in with the bible???because his ins. plan and everything that he is cutting from education is going to cause more poverty!)

The only reason Bush2 prayed was because he needed the votes and the support of superstitious uneducated ignorant savages.

(Religion) With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
-Steven Weinberg

Consider that:
If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little Electric Chairs around their necks instead of crosses.
-Lenny Bruce

More than 7 million children under the age of 5 die every year.

We need to be honest about what we know and what we do not. Stop pretending Christianity makes sense.

"Separation of church and state" means that the country cannot set up an official religion and force people to follow it. It does not mean that individuals must hide their faith or that faith is banned in public places. Since Obama claims to be a Christian of some type, he is denying his own god by being too afraid to acknowledge his religion.

I don't see a problem with the National Day of Prayer. What's wrong with praying for blessing on this country? If you don't believe in God, then don't pray. It's not about religion. God is not a religion. No one is forcing people to pray. No one is forced to believe. Freedom of speech is at question here. I know so-called athiest who called on God when nothing else helped. Keep trusting in yourselves only, or trusting in nature and intellect all comes up short.

God Bless America.

How is it that so many misread the words of their native language.

#1 - The LA Times misreported the Whitehouse Day of Prayer celebration as having a history of "many years" when the fact is that it has had only an 8 year run established by one president in its 27 year history.

#2 - The National Day of Prayer was not defined as a day of Christian prayer but is directed towards citizens of ALL faiths,Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and many others.

#3 - The Constitution of the United States does not read "freedom from religion" it reads "Freedon OF Religion". Agnostics, believe what you wish. Athiests, you have a God whether it be money, power, pride or any other item that you wish but you Do have something that you worship.

Barack Obama did nothing differently than three out of the four previous presidents.

It is the reporter and the reader who are guilty. The first of distorting facts and the latter of reading into the story what they wish to believe. It is these who do a disservice to truth.

Those who are believing that Obama is not hosting the National Day of Prayer functions because he prays all the time anyways are fools....that's just a cop out. Bush probably prayed more than Obama but held the National Day of Prayer sessions. I think that Obama is a Muslim and is probably praying to Allah. He said in a Muslim nation reported in an overseas newspaper - that he is a Muslim and for them to be patient - because he has plans for Israel that will be pleasing to the Muslim nations. A woman who can speak and read that language reported this - she read the newspaper and was shocked to see what Obama had said. Wake up - Obama is a Muslim and doesn't want to hold the National Day of Prayer festivities as a result. It makes since to me. It's so obvious. If you don't want to live under Muslim rules and Sharia law it's about time you guys out there woke's coming and soon - we have millions of Muslims in this nation and they are growing and getting powerful......I'm a Christian and love being one, the Muslims will kill me and others.......because no way will I convert to Islam - the Religion of hate and death.

those who love GOD , keep loving Him and believe in Him. Because He is the only one who can save us all in the precious name of Jesus Christ.
Don't ever be worry about this, because the prophecy has to happen just the way it is in the bible .
people on more time we near the End.
repent that's all i can say for every single one of you
you can go ahead in Matthew 24 the all chapter read them all
and see .
and pretty soon you'll see everything is already accomplish except the return of Christ so ..... ask yourself that question :"am i ready for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ or not". please go ahead and do this, you never know, no one is perfect, but with humility and favor with prayer the Lord release grace to those who need.
and bottom way don't ever chock about what going on around because thing will get worst over and over.
"always expected the unexpected".

What a radical left wing press can do to alter history!

This headline is ridiculous, what are they trying to feed off hatred for Bush?
At what point does this administration stop trying to promote their agenda's as anti-Bush. Obama will pander to the Muslims and Atheists yet turn his back on a nation created by Christians.

He throws Bush's name into everything where he's trying to stirr up hate and promote an agenda. National Prayer Day was first instituted by Harry Truman in 1952, not by Bush!

A better version of this story can be found here:

Why are we celebrating Iftar in the White House? This is a Muslim tradition (this is a religion right?), this was started by Bill Clinton and of course carried on by Obama with welcome arms which the Muslims flock to yet at a time Obama has chosen to cancel the much longer celebrated National Day of Prayer instituted b...y Harry Truman.

The problem is Obama is pandering to Muslims while turning his back on Christians as he has canceled the long standing traditional National Day of Prayer for the first time in
decades. Pandering to muslims has happened on a consistent basis
since January 2009.

This is the single most un-presidential President and in my opinion an infiltrator of the whitehouse. Everything he does, is for political payback to the unions, acorn, T. Boon Picket, G.E., the list goes on... And will do anything to protect their interests over the American people. Take the Gulf spill for example, won't accept foreign help to clean up or allow the other Oil rigs to continue operations by his command (illegally I might add.)

I'm still waiting to see his proof of citizenship, how about you?

I find it ironic that Christians would even want a National Prayer Day. You claim to follow Jesus, but Jesus said (according to Matthew) not to pray in public to be seen by men. This is plain and simple. You Christians can't even follow the some of the obvious teachings of Jesus. Bunch of insecure hypocrits if you ask me.

Want more prayer? Do it yourself.

There is nothing so obscene as a nation suffocating in vapid symbolic piety.

May the almighty rid America of all theese religion and gun-clinging red necks
who refuse to get with my program of transforming the USA into a secular and
socialist nirvana.Amen or .....inch Allah

I read with some hilarity the arguments on both sides of this "debate", being fairly confident that the story on which they are commenting is pretty well-recognized as a hoax among the aficionados of Internet hoaxes.

What sort of country would we be like if people checked their facts before sounding off with angry opinions?

Prayer is stronger in groups of two or more.......
I'm so glad he can't cancel it all together, not that it would matter since you can (and are urged) pray any (and every) day at any time of day, not just for one day.

Remember Christs' words "where 2 or more gather in My Name, there shall I be"

Wow, how sad. I can't even imagine how disappointed God must feel in his people. The foundation of our country is being ignored and degraded and it appears we are sliding down a slippery slope. These days there are fewer people who follow God and pray and there are record high numbers of school shootings, murders, theft, teenage pregnancies, etc.. A coincidence? umm I think NOT! I will pray for our nation continuously because we sure do need it.

why are the christians the only ones that don't have rights although each president claim to be a christian mmmmmmmm seems like the muslim and the athiest are the only ones with freedom of speach and freedom of religion no one told them they had to join in on the national day of prayer it's a choices.

Hello Mr. President Obama,
I am very disappointed in you for what you have done to us as Americans. You
have no right to tell us what religion to join with you even though I totally disagreed with your own religion as Muslim. To me, it is totally false religion here in America, but you may wish to keep Muslim as your own religion if you wish, but you have no right to tell us what to do with our own religion of our own choice. I pray for you everyday in hoping that you would respect us as Americans, but to me you do NOT respect us as Americans. Why are you doing this to us? I really think that you really HATED us as Americans for trying to destroy everything that my founding Fathers worked hard for execpt you. I am hoping that you would be only one term president. Why do you want to increase taxes everything that I cannot afford to pay for it? You are NOT being fair to us as Americans and you are NOT honest with us anyway. I pray for you to end your term next year. God bless you. Thanks for reading it.
Sincerely yours,
Janet Beckley

« | 1 2


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: